Law Pre Grad Intern Lily Maldonado

Lily MaldonadoAs a first-generation college student, I have never had the guidance of a parent or older relative to help me through the decisions I've made thus far in my academic career. From the application process of applying to universities, deciding where to go and finding the best fit for me, I have felt that I have gone through this short journey so far a bit blind-sighted. I did have an older cousin who attended college as well, but in the midst of her starting her career and starting a family, I lacked the full-time guidance that a parent could often provide. I would soon become the guinea pig for when my sister went through the entire process as well the following year. Fortunately for me, I coincidentally decided to read through one of my pre-law emails one day and I came across an event for an information meeting about a law undergraduate mentorship program: the IE Pre Grad Internship. Within a few short days following the email, I realized that this program was going to be able to offer me an opportunity unlike what I had ever received before.

My graduate mentor this semester was Rebecca Bellay, a second-year law student at the University of Texas School of Law, or what they call an "L2." Shortly after meeting Rebecca, I found quite a few of similarities I shared with her, pertaining to both our career goals and though processes. First off, she wants to specialize in corporate and contract law, which I am currently interested at the moment. Of course, my decision could change at any moment as it has several times already. However, what was most important to me that I found to be possible with Rebecca, was that I felt comfortable to share each of my thoughts and concerns with her. Most notably, I found it okay to talk to her about my feelings of feeling "behind" in the entire application process, as compared to my peers interested in the same path. Nobody ever wants to admit that they don't have it all together, and I believe this is where this mentorship program really stands apart from the rest. Many of the graduate mentors with whom we undergraduates are paired, have gone through some of the same issues we currently are facing, and can in turn share with us their wisdom and advice based on their experiences so far.

Growing up, I wasn't that little kid who dreamed of becoming a lawyer from the time she was five. There may be some who did, I'm not sure, but I'll be shocked if I even knew what a lawyer was then. As I grew older, some of my future career aspirations included becoming an astronaut, interior designer, and even an architect, but it wasn't until technically high school that I started to give the field of law any further interest. By the time high school graduation hit, I had decided that I was going to go to law school and be a lawyer. I also wanted to be able to travel and interact with people from all over, so more specifically, I wanted to become a lawyer and specialize in international law. Then, college began and I agreed to join a first-year interest group consisting of classes related to my intended major, International Relations. Upon further evaluation into the newly-offered major and in applying to law school, I found the classes I would be taking were of little interest to me, and I realized I could practically study anything I wanted to that could be beneficial to me when studying law. That was when I decided to apply for an internal transfer into the College of Communication, I has been previously undeclared in the College of Liberal Arts, so that I could study something more broad and practical in which I could use in the possibility that I didn't end up in law school. I was aware of the countless amount of stories about students changing their members and career paths even multiple times during their four years on campus, and I had to be mindful of the possibility that I could end up doing something completely opposite. This came out to be completely true, because I briefly decided to change my plans into marketing and advertising, and then business because of how much I have also enjoyed my BFP courses. I thought communication skills were needed for any profession, and that it could be a great stepping stool for various graduate programs.

Unsure if I wanted to continue into the path of communications or return to law, a professional mentor I met through my communications organization, recommended I intern as the communications assistant at the Austin Bar Association so that I could get a feel for both fields. After my time at the ABA last semester, I realized law school was what I still wanted to do, and now I'm back on track to continue preparing for applications. However, now as a senior, I feel as if I have fallen behind of my peers because of my brief detour of my intended law school plan. Nevertheless, my mentor Rebecca has helped me to come to the understanding that this is all okay, and that taking a year off to take my LSATs and visit different law programs can actually be very beneficial. In fact, she actually recommends that I do, as well as the law school professor I interviewed. Rebecca had was very honest about her law school experiences with me, and of the tough times that would ahead, and she wished she had also taken a couple of years off to rest and to do some traveling before she made this large decision. She looks forward to becoming a lawyer, but she admits the journey is quite draining.

Overall, I am very thankful for the opportunity this mentorship program has granted me. It did in fact help me decide if law school was going to be the right fit for me, and that it is just as important to find out what I don't want as it is important to find what I do. I was also thankful to have received surprising advice I otherwise would have never had expected that I will take with me also. The most important being to not make school my entire life and identity; balance of "me" time are key to staying sane. From this point on, I look forward to my year off graduation, preparing for the LSAT, further researching law programs and visiting campuses, and applying to schools.